Football star Lionel Messi and six-time Formula One winner Lewis Hamilton were both awarded the title Sportsman of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards, while US superstar gymnast Simone Biles, won the Sportswoman title for the second year in a row.
The Argentinian football player and British Mercedes driver both won the same number of votes at the 20th round of the awards in Berlin on Monday evening.
Biles, the four-times Olympic gold medalist and artistic gymnast, has been called “the greatest gymnast ever.”
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the only worldwide awards event to recognize the best athletes of the past year in various categories.
Hamilton was handed the award by former football trainer Arsene Wenger at a gala hosted at the Verti Music Hall. He thanked the greats before him, saying, “I’ve been inspired by so many of you.”
Hamilton added, “it’s all of our responsibility to use our platform for really pushing for gender equality, inclusivity and making sure that we are engaging and trying to represent where the world is today.”
Afterwards, Hamilton tweeted, “To think that my name is going to slot in alongside the legends, who have won this award before me, is really humbling.”
Messi did not travel to Berlin for the prize and sent a message of thanks by video. He tweeted, “I am honoured to be the first to win this award being a sportsperson coming from a team sport.”
Laureus’ prize for a team this year went to South Africa’s rugby squad, after the Springboks dominated at the Rugby World Cup in Japan on November 2.
Among the other winners of the evening, German race driver Sophia Floersch was rewarded with the title comeback of the year for her return to racing in Macau after suffering a horrifying crash on the street circuit.
And Egan Arley Bernall, the Colombian cyclist, took the prize for breakthrough of the year, having become the youngest winner of the Tour de France for 110 years at the age of 22.
Further winners included Dirk Nowitzki, who was presented with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award. The basketball star travelled to Berlin with his wife Jessica and said he was proud of where his journey had taken him.
Snowboarder Chloe Kim was celebrated as world action sports star of the year. Currently, she is the world, Olympic, Youth Olympic, and X Games champion in the halfpipe, and the first to win the title at all four events.
Oksana Masters, the Ukrainian-US paralympic cyclist, won the award for sportsperson of the year with a disability. Masters tweeted that she was sharing the experience with her mom, and shared a photograph of the two.
Among the more than 60 members of the Laureus Academy are former German sporting greats such as tennis player Boris Becker and figure skater Katarina Witt.
The event was moderated by British actor Hugh Grant.